The 1960s were a monumental decade in the Western world which effectively transformed its culture with the rise of the hippie subculture, and the countercultural message of peace, love, and happiness in response to the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War. While the concept of counterculture that emerged would continue to be a force in society, counterculture essentially emerged in other ways beyond the hippie subculture. The 1970s ushered in a new wave of counterculture with the rise of harder rock and heavy metal music. Although heavy metal proved to be a major countercultural movement, it was vastly different, and much darker, attracting a plethora of disenfranchised youths, giving them a unique and distinct social identity (Hebdige 1979, 227). By examining the history of heavy metal and its evolution into what it has become today, its impact on pop culture and society can be examined.
The birth of heavy metal comes as the result of the fusion of the two genres of blues and psychedelic rock music, which were both gaining widespread popularity over the years prior to the 1970s. Rock bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin had already gained airplay on the radio, and were considered innovators in the movement of hard rock, as well as towards heavy metal. Metal would come in full force in 1970, with the release of the band Black Sabbath's eponymously titled first album, which would be regarded as the first successful metal album. The album Black Sabbath was credited with instrumentally and lyrically bringing forth some of the quintessential elements. According to Steve Huey, who reviewed the album on behalf of the online music database AllMusic, "Sabbath's genius was finding the hidden malevolence in the blues, and then bludgeoning the listener over the head with it. Take the legendary album-opening title cut. The standard pentatonic blues scale always added the tritone, or flatted fifth, as the so-called 'blues note;' Sabbath simply extracted it and came up with one of the simplest yet most definitive heavy metal riffs of all time.